||The census of 1901 gives 2,410 acres,
including 17 of inland water; this is the
area after the changes made in 1882 and
||Divided Parishes Act. Cobhouse is
a detached part of Walmersley lying within the northerly detached part of Birtle.
Diggles lies to the east of Dixon Fold, in
the detached part of Bamford.
||Loc. Govt. Bd. Order 31671. The
effect of these changes has been to abolish
the old fragmentary condition of the township.
||Subs. R. bdle. 250, no. 9, Lancs.
||a The story that the manor court for
Tottington fee was formerly held here
appears in Aikin, Country round Manch.
||a The fact that Birtle-with-Bamford and
Heap have a number of detached portions
is probably due to that 'common of pasture,'
shared by the tenants of Bury and Middleton, which is named in the Inq. p.m. of
Roger de Middleton in 1324; Inq. p.m.
16 Edw. II, 49.
Birtle was an original constituent of the
manor of Middleton, but the portion of
Bamford held by Richard Assheton in 1612
was found to belong to the lordship of the
Earl of Derby; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc.
Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 105,107. Some account of Bamford will be found under
Heap in Bury.
In a fine of 1592 respecting a messuage
and lands in Cobballs, Elbight (nowElbutt),
and Birtle, Richard Holland and Ralph
Assheton were plaintiffs and the Earl of
Derby and Richard Assheton (lords respectively of Bury and Middleton) were deforciants; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 54,
||b Assize R 404, m. 7 d.
Thomas son of Adam de Birkhill did not
prosecute a claim made in 1334 against
Agnes de Middleton, Maud, her daughter,
and others; Assize R. 1417, m. 7 d.
||a James Bury held lands in Bury, Middleton, and Tottington; Ralph, his son
and heir, was an idiot. On Ralph's death
in 1538 it was found that he held a messuage called Birtle (Byrkehill) and two
called 'Golden' of Sir Richard Ashton by
fealty and a rent of 14½d. yearly; Duchy
of Lanc Inq. p.m. v, 34; viii, 24.
A messuage and lands in Birtle and
Middleton were in 1573 purchased by
James Lomas from Lawrence Bury, Agnes
his wife, and Richard his son and heir;
Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 35, m. 115.
||a Gristlehurst was partly in Middleton
and partly in Bury. Thus the mediety of
Gristlehurst was granted by Adam de Bury
to Thomas de Bamford for a rent of 10d.;
the bounds included Stockley Clough, Petekesdene, Navedene, Kochet, and Tacleibrook; Raines MSS. (Chet. Lib.), xi, 113.
In 1336 Helewise de Hull granted to
Robert son of Adam de Bamford all her
right in land at Gristlehurst (Gristelyhyrst)
in the vill of Bury; Raines MSS. (Chet.
Lib.), xi, 26. William son of John de
Barton in 1367 complained that William
son of John del Wood, of Gristlehurst,
had caused waste of houses, &c.; De
Banco R. 426, m. 285 d. In 1370
William del Wood of Gristlehurst attested
an Ashworth charter; ibid. 265, 261.
Land in Gristlehurst had belonged to
Geoffrey de Hopwood, outlawed for felony
in or before 1370; L. T. R. Memo. R. 166,
||b Gristlehurst 'was obtained before the
year 1449 by Ralph Holt, who (according
to a curious parchment roll, in my possession, of the time of Henry VII) married
Ellen, widow of James Bellairs, who died
in France, and daughter and co-heiress of
John Sumpter of Colchester, by his wife
Margery, daughter and co-heiress of Sir
Geoffrey Brockholes, kt. It appears
that Geoffrey had married Eleanor, the
heiress of Sir John Roos, kt., who inherited large estates in Essex from her
mother, Alice, the sole heiress of Sir
Robert Asheldam. The property of Sir
Geoffrey, which descended to him from
lis mother Alice, one of the heiresses of
Sir Guy de Mancetter, lord of Mancetter,
in the county of Warwick, also came to
the Holts, which gave them a position
and rank not enjoyed by the elder
branches of the house'; Canon Raines in
Noti'ia Cestr. ii, 100. Nothing is positively known as to the ancestry of Ralph
Holt In 1441 Ralph Holt summoned
Thomas and John Kay of Bury, Ralph,
John, and Peter Lomax of Heap, and
others to answer why they had disseised
liim of his free tenement in Bury and
Middleton-no doubt Gristlehurst. They
replied that William Wood, who formerly
he.d it, had enfeoffed Thomas Kay and
Richard Lomax; but Ralph claimed by a
charter of William's made before that
feoffment; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 3, m.
19. The roll above referred to was
given to the Chetham Library by Canon
James Holt, the son of Ralph, married
before 1481 Isabel, one of the daughters
and co-heirs of Gilbert Abram of Abram
and Grappenhall, and had certain lands
with her; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs,
and Ches.), iii, 139; Duchy Plead. (same
Soc), i, 39–41; Dep. Keeper's Rep.
xxxvii, App. 683.
Constance, daughter of James son of
Ralph Holt, was in 1477 contracted to
marry Oliver Holt of Ashworth; Raines
MSS. xi, 273.
With James the pedigree recorded in
1567 begins; Visit. (Chet. Soc.), 22. A
son of his named Gilbert occurs in 1502;
Raines, op. cit. 113.
||c James Holt, in the recorded pedigree, is stated to have had a son Ralph,
father of Sir Thomas Holt of Gristlehurst, who obtained from Henry VIII
darge grants of the estates of Whalley and
Cockersand Abbeys. In 1542 he obtained
the manor of Spotland in Rochdale, with
its appurtenances, which had belonged to
the former abbey, together with rents
from Coleshaw in Chadderton and other
lands which had probably belonged to the
Hospitallers, for £641 16s. 8d.; Pat. 33
Hen. VIII, pt. 6. During the following
year he obtained Stidd, which had also belonged to the Hospitallers; Alt Grange
in Ince Blundell, Cronton, and Staining,
the property of Whalley; Cunscough in
Melling, Forton, Ellel, and other lands
which had belonged to Cockersand, the
price being £1,727 15s.; Pat. 35 Hen.
VIII, pt. 1.
Thomas Holt is noticed in the Visit. of
1533 (Chet. Soc. 53). He was made a
knight by the Earl of Hertford during the
expedition into Scotland in 1544; Metcalfe, Book of Knights, 76.
||Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xi, 46. Sir
Thomas died 8 March 1561–2, leaving as
heir Francis his son, then aged thirtyeight. The inquisition gives a full list of
his lands, and also recites his will dated
1554. By this he left his 'head house or
capital messuage called Gristlehurst, with
a mease and two mills in the tenure of
Thomas Shay; also three cottages on the
moor side called Tarkelee [Tack lee]
. . . and all such lands and tenements
in Bury and Middleton which were
taken to be of the demesne lands of
the said capital messuage, of the yearly
value of £10,' to his wife Dorothy
for her life, with remainder to Francis
Holt his son and heir and heirs male, and
in default to Ralph Holt, his younger son,
and heirs male, &c. An annuity was
granted to Robert Holt his brother. Another will, made just before his death, is
printed in Piccope's Wills (Chet. Soc.), i,
131; it concerns chiefly his household
stock, &c.; it mentions Thomas the son
of Francis his heir, the fourth best gelding
being left to him.
Of Francis Holt little is known. His
will, dated 1599 (Raines MSS. vi, 252)
was proved in 1604. He made a settlement of his manors of Spotland, &c., in
1578; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 40,
m. 137. His son and heir Thomas died
in December 1609, leaving as his heir his
son Francis, then aged twenty-four. Some
of the estates had by this time been sold,
but he held the 'manors ' of Gristlehurst,
Spotland, Forton, and Stidd, and various
lands. His father had in 1588 settled the
manor of Gristlehurst and messuages,
water-mill, fulling-mills, and lands in
Gristlehurst, Bury, Middleton, Bamford,
Spotland, and Rochdale to the use of
himself (Francis) and Ellen his wife, then
for Thomas Holt and Francis his son and
heir and heirs male; in default, to
Thomas and to Edward, younger sons of
Francis, &c. Constance, the widow, and
Francis, Ralph, John, and Edmund, the
sons of Thomas, were living at Gristlehurst in 1610; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec.
Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 157–63. The
manor, &c., of Gristlehurst was held of
Sir Richard Asshcton of Middleton, in
socage; no rent is named.
Francis Holt died 28 September 1617,
leaving as heir his son James, then nearly
seventeen. By a settlement of 1603 the
manor of Gristlehurst had been given to
the use of Thomas Holt (the father) during the life of Francis Holt (the grandfather), and then to the use of Katherine
Holt, wife of the younger Francis, for life,
with remainder to heirs male. Another
settlement of 1609 mentions James,
William, and Theophilus as sons of the
younger Francis. The tenure of Gristlehurst was stated as before; ibid, ii, 81–6.
For the settlement see also Pal. of Lanc.
Feet of F. bdle. 75, no. 37. A pedigree
was recorded in 1613; Visit. (Chet. Soc),
James Holt died without issue in 1623,
and his brother William having died before him, the heir was the younger brother
Theophilus, about fourteen years of age;
Lancs. Inq. (ut sup.), iii, 371–8. No fresh
dispositions of the estates appear to have
been made by James Holt.
Theophilus Holt, who thus succeeded
his brother, died 21 July 1628. His
mother Katherine was still living and in
possession of Gristlehurst with various
messuages and lands, which were to revert
to Theophilus and his heirs male, held of
Ralph Asshcton and others. Alice, the
widow, gave birth to a son three weeks
after the father's death; he was called
Thomas Posthumus; Duchy of Lanc.
Inq. p.m. xxvi, 25.
The heir married and had two sons, but
they died young, and the father squandered his whole estate, dying in great
poverty at Tattenhall in Cheshire in 1679.
There is a pedigree of the family in the
Piccope MSS. (Chet. Lib.), i, 346. There
was published ' A Plant of Paradise;
being a sermon preached at St. Martin i 1
the Fields at the funeral of John Goodhand Holt, the young son, only child, and
hopeful heir of Thomas Holt of Grislehurst, co. Lanc, Esqr., March 19, 1659,
by R. Mossom, minister of St. Peter,
Paul's Wharf, London,' with an epistle
dedicatory to Thomas and Anne Holt, the
mournful parents, &c.; Pal. Note Bk. i,
Thomas P. Holt recorded a pedigree at
the herald's visitation in 1664–5; Dugdale's Visit. (Chet. Soc), 150.
||Alexander Holt, a London goldsmith,
was called 'cousin' of Thomas P. Holt,
being, it was said, descended from the
Gristlehurst family; Lond. Visit. 1633
(Harl. Soc.), i, 393; Whitaker, Whalley,
ii, 23–4 ; Piccope, ut sup.
||Raines in Notitia Cestr. ii, 100;
Burke, Commoners, ii, 323. About 1750
the estate comprised 127a. 1r. 24p. of
pasture land, and 42a. 1r. 20p. of old
timber. The purchase was made by
Joseph Fenton, the father of James. For
the family see Burke's Landed Gentry—
Fenton of Dutton Manor.
||Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxx, 90.
His heirs were his daughters, Elizabeth,
wife of Peter Lomax, and Jane, wife of
||Henry son of Robert, son of Alice
de Smethurst, in 1357 and later made a
claim against Roger son of Roger de Pilkington concerning two messuages, 20
acres of land, &c., in Middleton and Bury;
Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 6, m. 3, 1 d.
The defence was that the tenement was
entirely in Bury, and that Alice had a son
Gilbert, elder brother of Robert, who had
granted to Henry de Bury, his lord, all his
right in Smethurst, 'Falsedchirist,' and
Coppedhurst. It was replied that Gilbert
had been imprisoned at Smethurst by
Henry de Bury, and had only made the
grant adduced under that duress; further,
that the lands claimed by Henry were in
Middleton. Henry de Smethurst gained
his case; Assize R. 438, m. 5. Arthur
Smethurst the elder made a settlement of
an estate in Middleton, Bury, and Manchester in 1568; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F.
bdle. 30, m. 117.
||The Meadowcroft family early appear
in Middleton. Thomas de Meadowcroft
in 1347 complained that various persons
had been digging in his quarry at Middleton and otherwise trespassing; De Banco
R. 351, m. 27; 352, m. 368. Adam del
Meadowcroft was a defendant in 1351;
Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 1, m. v. Geoffrey son of Nicholas de Meadowcroft was
charged with waste in Middleton in 1368;
De Banco R. 431, m. 168. Robert son
of Roger de Meadowcroft was in 1387
found to have enjoyed for a time the profits of lands belonging to John son of Roger
de Meadowcroft in Kearsley, and to John
son of John de Ainsworth in Middleton;
Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc.), i, 27. Roger
de Meadowcroft of Middleton, gentleman,
was defendant in a plea of trespass by
Rose widow of Richard de Bamford in
1441 and 1442; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R.
3, m. 16; 4, m. 6b. Ralph Meadowcroft in 1559 made a settlement of his
estate of five messuages, &c., in Bury and
Middleton; Pal. of Lane. Feet of F. bdle.
21, m. 71. Richard Meadowcroft was
plaintiff in 1574 in a plea concerning
Birtle and other lands; Ducatus Lanc.
(Rec. Com.), iii, 23.
Francis Meadowcroft of Smethurst was
a freeholder in 1600; Misc. (Rec. Soc.
Lancs, and Ches.), i, 247. In 1622 he
contributed in Bury to the subsidy for his
'goods,' while Richard Meadowcroft contributed for 'lands' in Middleton; ibid.
161, 158. On a summons of the heralds
a pedigree was recorded in 1664, showing
three generations: Richard Meadowcroft
of Smethurst, d. 1660; s.—Richard,
aged 62; s.—Richard, aged 30; Dugdale, Visit. (Chet. Soc), 196. 'Francis
Meadowcroft, gent., was living in the year
1702, and having married Alice daughter
and co-heiress of James Lomax of Booth
Hall, gent., had issue Richard and James,
and two daughters.—Pleadings in the
Rolls Court, 1702'; Raines in Notitia
Cestr. ii, 100. It appears that in 1677
Francis Meadowcroft sold or mortgaged
to Adam Gaskell 'a demesne called
Smethurst, with all the housing and all
the conveniences belonging, and the three
tenements at Roughhill Street, which in
all contains about 55 acres more or less,'
situate in Middleton; a place called Bratshey Hill, containing about 12 acres, also
in Middleton; and a tenement called
Elbutt, under the Earl of Derby, containing about 60 acres; Exch. of Pleas, 29
Chas. II, Mich. m. 5, v, m. 17.
||The will of Peter Lomax of Castle
Hill, proved in 1712, shows that he had a
daughter Jane, wife of Thomas Tipping.
||Henry de Bamford in 1292 claimed
land and wood and the eighth part of a
mill in Middleton against Ellis Moscrop
and Cecily his wife; Assize R. 408, m.
21 d. Roger de Bamford in 1363 claimed
a messuage in Middleton against John
son of John de Ainsworth; De Banco R.
413, m. 100.
Thomas Langley of Agecroft, who died
in 1472, had rents of 6d. each from Roger
Bamford and Robert de Heywood for lands
in Middleton; the latter had the Crimbles; Agecroft D. 80–1.
A number of the deeds of this Bamford
family are given briefly among the Birch
charters in Harl. MS. 2112, fol. 178b, &c.;
some will be found printed in full in Booker,
Didsbury (Chet. Soc), 115, &c. Among
these are:—A release of actions from
Nicholas de Bamford to William de Birches
in 1382–3; power of attorney from John
Bamford to Richard son of Thomas Bamford to receive lands in Middleton and
Spotland in 1450–1; Bartin Bamford
in 1478 agreed that his son John should
marry Margery sister of Sir Richard
Longford (and for Bartin see also Mamecestre, iii, 482); George Bamford of Holt
(in Rusholme) agreed in 1518 that his
son John should marry Margaret daughter
of Richard Scholefield; John son and heir
of George Bamford is named in 1532.
John Bamford of Rusholme, grandson
of George, held in 1558 among other
properties a messuage, &c., in Middleton
called Bamford, of Richard Ashton in
socage; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xi,
no. 61, 38. His infant daughter and heir,
Anne, married (1) George Birch of Birch
and (2) Francis Duckinfield of Stockport;
Earwaker, East Ches. ii, 19.
There were claims to the estate made
in 1562 and 1565; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec.
Soc), ii, 207, 302. In 1580 Thomas
Bamford of Leicester claimed as the heir
male of Adam Bamford, seised in 1413.
The pedigree he adduced stated that Adam
had a son Thomas, and he a son John,
who was succeeded in turn by his sons
Bartholomew, Nicholas, and George; the
last-named had a son John, whose son
John was the father of Anne, in possession; Duchy of Lanc. Plead. lxii, B 7.
Settlements of the lands were made by
George Birch and Anne his wife in 1574
and 1575; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle.
36, m. 54; 37, m. 90. For disputes as
to the inheritance in Bamford, see Ducatus
Lanc, iii, 3; and Lancs, and Ches. Rec.
(Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 257.
Anne Duckinfield died in 1619 holding
'20 acres of pasture in Middleton called
Bamfold'; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc.
Lanes, and Ches.), ii, 178.
||a Raines D. (Chet. Lib.). In 1522
the collector for the Earl of Derby accounted for 16s. 8d. rent from 'Nakfeld'
in the parish of Middleton, which had
been purchased from John Bamford; Roll
in possession of the Earl of Lathom.
||Towneley MS. C. 8,13 (Chet. Lib.),
Commonw. Ch. Surv. (Rec. Soc
Lancs, and Ches.), 43.
||An abstract of the title will be found
in Raines MSS. (Chet. Lib.), xxxi, 49, &c.
||Returns at Preston.
||A district was assigned in 1848;
Lond. Gaz. 28 April.